Body Image and Masculinity

Body Image and Masculinity

Our volunteer Conor talks about the theme of this year's Mental Health Awareness Week, body image, and how it affects young men.

(17/05/19)

Body Image isn't just about your physical body, it's mental and emotional, and a large important factor of a healthy well-being. A healthy body image is being able to truly accept your natural body without feeling pressure to change to society's idea of what you should look like. A healthy body image is an important contribution to the mental health of both men and women.


As a man, I feel it is important for all men to feel comfortable in their own body. There are a lot of stereotypes as to what the “healthy” or "ideal" masculine body should look like. I believe that there is no such thing as a perfect body type, our bodies are all uniquely designed and the idea that we must all conform to one shape is impossible. A truly healthy body image begins with the mind and being able to accept ourselves for who we are by embracing our differences. Constantly comparing your body to another can be toxic as you begin to believe that you should look a certain way which can be detrimental to your mental health and self-esteem.


Personally, I have a slim build and struggle to gain weight and I can often be classed by others as underweight. However, I am comfortable in my body and understand that I am treating my body healthily. I do not feel the pressure to change because I know my own body type better than anybody else.


The stereotypical healthy masculine body portrayed by the media in magazines, advertisements, and on social media does not mean that every other body type is unhealthy. The stereotypical six-pack, perfect amount of stubble, and tanned skin should not be the aim for every man, the idea of the stereotype is unrealistic as a healthy body varies for everyone. Often images displayed in the media are edited, this results in the image not accurately reflecting the true body of the individual. Edited images in the media display a false and unachievable representation of a healthy body, therefore, it is vital to not compare them to your own.


It is important for men to feel open to discussing body image. There is no shame in communicating with friends, family, or available services about the topic. When I have struggled with a healthy body image I have spoken to family and it has always helped. I urge any guy struggling to accept their body image to open up and speak to others.